Mining interests are heavily invested in Capitol Hill.

The mining industry, which finds itself under renewed scrutiny this week after dozens of fatalities at a West Virginia coal mine, wields major political clout in Washington thanks to hefty campaign contributions to GOP lawmakers and expensive lobbying efforts aimed at blunting the impact of environment- and safety-related legislation.
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But Massey has frequently appealed its violations, an increasingly common tactic by mine operators following the Sago deaths. Mine companies are now contesting 27 percent of the violations they face, compared with just 6 percent in 2005.

The flood of appeals has clogged an overburdened system and allowed repeat violators to delay more serious punishment. As long as the citations are being contested, MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) DOES NOT consider them in deciding whether there is a serious enough pattern of misconduct to warrant greater scrutiny.

Critics say the AGENCY has been too SLOW to respond to these tactics and that reining in the appeals process would go a long way toward preventing catastrophes.

Celeste Monforton, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University, said the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WAS AWARE A YEAR AGO that a surge in appeals of violations was creating a huge backlog of cases.

"That's a HUGE missed opportunity for the NEW ADMINISTRATION," said Monforton, who spent six years as a special assistant to MSHA's assistant director.

United Mine Workers labor union President Cecil Roberts said more regulation isn't needed, just better enforcement.

"Mine safety laws and regulations have progressed to the point where, when followed and properly enforced, they should prevent disasters like this one at Upper Big Branch from happening," Roberts said. "Clearly that was not the case here.",0,436030.story
The safety ethic of Massey Coal and Don Blankenship is a miserable excuse for how to keep mines safe. Blankenship is quoted as saying, "I think that I've proven that we run safer coal know, most of the time, and accidents sometimes happen."

In any industry, the old sayings, Accidents sometimes happen" or "Accidents will happen" are something, that by today's modern standards of safety are strictly not acceptable. The goal of every industry is to prevent accidents and the ethic in today's world is that SAFETY IS NO.1!! Blankenship cuts corners in safety to "get the coal out." He is an unconscionable scumbag and he needs to be investigated for criminal negligence. A big problem with mine safety enforcement is that the fines are too low and the money-grubbers like Blankenship just consider the fines as another cost of doing business and then they continue to flout the rules.

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